Community Thanks Military Members For Service With Free Wedding - Then Couple Pays It Forward

You can't put a price on things like celebrating love and treasured memories, but unfortunately for many couples, it doesn't feel like that. According to the wedding website TheKnot.com, weddings come at an average price tag of $35,329. For some couples trying to get a start in life, that is an impossible budget. One couple in the military got an amazing gift from their community, who wanted to thank them for their service. The couple, in turn, wanted to thank some of their fellow service members.

Jeffrey Mercado and his fiancé, Sarah Davenport, recently tied the knot in a dream wedding that would have been way over their budget. Lucky for them, they didn't have to pay at all.

Mercado joined the military at age 19, and has remained on active duty for 16 years as a medic in the U.S. Air Force. He's so dedicated that during one tour in Afghanistan, during a blood shortage, he donated his own blood on the spot to a soldier who needed an emergency transfusion.

“That was my most memorable moment in my entire career,” Mercado said.

Happily Ever After wedding planner, Tinker Keeney, wanted to help out the couple. Keeney's own grandfather was a soldier in World War II, and the wedding planner says that the military deserves our gratitude.

“If they're going to put their life out there, risk their life for us ... why can't we do something for them?” Keeney told the San Angelo Standard-Times.

Keeney got a bunch of local businesses to donate services for the wedding. Southwest Florist donated the flowers. Owner Karla Stemple said, "I just think it's the right thing to do.”

The Cactus Hotel donated the venue. One by one, local businesses joined in to make an offer so that the couple's day could be everything they dreamed it would be.

One table, in particular, was a touching addition. The couple had an empty table dedicated to those soldiers who are missing in action. The table held a hat from each of the armed services, a flag and a flower in a vase in remembrance of the lost. On that table, there was also a lemon for the bitterness of war prisoners, salt in honor of the tears the family cried, and a yellow ribbon as a symbol that the country hasn't given up on them. There was also a plate in front of one empty seat, with a glass of champagne.

The special table was set up because the couple wanted to honor those service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Mercado, who is stationed at the Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, says he was a little skeptical about going to the town. Now, he's hoping to stay.

“Everybody is so nice here and so grateful for our military and our police,” Mercado said. “Let me tell you, I fell in love with this place ... and I will retire here.”

Source: Independent Journal Review
Photo: Standard-Times Screenshot

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